Stock up, stock down after Bills’ preseason win over Colts


The Buffalo Bills have completed their annual camp at St. John Fisher and have their first preseason game in the book, a 23-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Who impressed? Who disappointed? Here’s our stock up, stock down from Buffalo’s preseason opener. 

Stock up

Sean McDermott

With the usual disclaimer that this is preseason and teams tend to run vanilla schemes, Sean McDermott had minimal hiccups in his return to defensive play calling. The defense played fast and confidently, keeping the Colts off the scoreboard until three seconds to go in the first half. Additionally, the Bills’ defense played more aggressively than fans have seen in past years under Leslie Frazier, sending blitzes from the second level of the defense multiple times. They were 27th in blitz rate in 2022. Early signs point to a higher rate coming in 2023.

James Cook

When Devin Singletary was the Bills’ lead running back, every camp brought someone challenging him for the primary role. That has yet to feel like the case for James Cook in 2023. He showed why on Saturday, averaging a clean five yards per carry with 20 yards on four carries and a touchdown. Cook displayed vision following a well-designed run for the lone touchdown put up by the first-team offense. Cook looks like he is ready to take the jump to the Bills’ primary running back.

O’Cyrus Torrence 

Bills fans would love nothing more than hitting on an offensive lineman in the draft. O’Cyrus Torrence starting over Ryan Bates at guard signals that hope may become a reality. Torrence’s play went largely unnoticed on Saturday. For linemen, that is normally a good thing. Torrence played 13 passing snaps, did not register a pressure allowed, and produced no penalties. And if you are into PFF grades, he had the high pass-blocking grade of all Bills. The most recently released depth chart still has Ryan Bates listed as the starter, so Torrence still has work to do, but his performance is a solid first step. 

Bills find way to win, down Colts in preseason opener 23-19

Stock down

Kaiir Elam. 

In my second-year players article, I wrote about Kaiir Elam’s struggles last year. Game one did little to instill faith that Elam will be the starting corner opposite Tre’Davious White. Elam did not allow a catch but did get called for a pass inference on one of his three targets. Meanwhile, his competition, Dane Jackson, grabbed an interception and saw his day end with starters like White, Micah Hyde, and Jordan Poyer. Elam is quickly running out of time if he wants to be a starter in 2023. 

Kyle Allen

Kyle Allen’s play on Saturday was uninspiring, especially when compared to the 172 yards and two touchdowns Matt Barkley put up in less than a half of play. Allen put up a passer rating of 52.6, completed 53% of his passes, and threw a pick-six on a poorly executed screen pass. There wasn’t supposed to be a battle for the backup quarterback position, but Allen’s poor play mixed with Barkley’s explosion has opened the competition up.  

Justin Shorter

In all likelihood, there are one or two open spots at wide receiver. On Saturday, it felt like every receiver on the fringe of the roster made at least a play or two. But the one who didn’t show up on any stat sheet was fifth-round pick Justin Shorter. He was on the field for 12 passing snaps and did not see a single target. He did not register a tackle in four kick and punt coverage snaps. Given his draft status, it is unlikely he will be cut, but the road to being a contributor may be running out for Shorter.

Teacher by day and runner by day. Cover 1 Writer by night.

1 Comment

  1. Paul

    I think Shorter suffered from sharing the field with WR3-5 during the period Kyle was trying not to sink at QB. I’ve no idea how good his deep routes were as they took him off camera. He ran a few routes in the middle where he was open but the ball went to WR3-5 or it was a run play.